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Patients to hold vigil for closing GP practice

Protesters in Shrewsbury are holding a vigil on Friday to mark the closure of a ‘popular’ GP practice.

Whitehall Medical Practice is due to close its doors on Friday 27 September following the CCG not being able to find a bidder for the contract.

It comes after the 3,700-patient practice’s private provider Malling Health decided not to renew its contract ending 30 September.

Furthermore, a councillor recently criticised Shropshire CCG for ‘not doing enough’ to find a new GP provider.

The vigil will be held on Friday 27 September between 10am and 11am outside Whitehall Medical Practice, Shrewsbury.

Shropshire Town Council councillor David Vasmer organised the vigil, along with campaigner Dennis Cheese.

Councillor Vasmer told Pulse: ‘We campaigned against the closure because here is a popular surgery, which has been rated ‘good’ by the CQC, was well-liked by patients, has a dedicated staff team. And it was quite near the town centre and was near a more deprived area of Shrewsbury, with a lot of elderly accommodation nearby.’

But he added that surrounding practices are reportedly ‘restricting’ the registration of new patients to five each day as their resources are already stretched. 

He said: ‘It’s going to close on Friday but the concern we’ve got at the moment was last Thursday, there were about 1,700 patients who are still not registered with another doctor. The CCG assured us they would write to all the patients and saying they have been allocated a particular surgery but patients have still got to apply to register.

‘Belvidere Surgery, which is very near to Whitehall, as far as we know, is restricting new patients to five a day. When Whitehall was first announced to close, they wrote a letter to the CCG saying they were opposed to it, that they would not be able to take on patients.’

The letter from Belvidere Surgery in November 2018 stated that the practice was already ‘at the maximum’ permitted by planning. 

It said: ‘Further extension possibilities on the site are very limited as the building is thought to now be close to maximum or already at the maximum that would be permitted by planning.’ 

Shropshire CCG’s head of primary care Steve Ellis said: ‘As of Friday, 20 September, over 2,200 patients have transferred to a new practice. All remaining patients have been written to and allocated a GP practice close to their home address, which has been done in discussion with individual practices. Therefore, all patients will have access to a new GP practice from Monday, 30 September.

‘Belvidere Medical Practice removed the limit of five registrations per day in mid-August and has been accepting up to 20 a day since then. The practice has not received more than 20 registration requests in a single day.

‘The CCG’s primary care team has been in regular contact with those practices most affected by the closure of Whitehall to ensure they are provided with the support they need. The type of support requested has been around conversion of a non-clinical room into a clinical room, support for additional administration staff, and support from the CCG Medicines Management team.’

It follows the news that a no-deal Brexit could close down practices, according to the RCGP chair